April 30 2015

Nepal: International aid crucial for earthquake survivors

Nepal's earthquake victims are struggling to survive while waiting for international aid to arrive. On the ground, SOS Children's Villages is delivering relief, but more help is crucial.

While the official death toll after last week’s devastating earthquake in Nepal has risen to more than 4,800 people, SOS Children’s Villages International is providing emergency relief to as many survivors as possible.

Due to the scale of the disaster, affecting around 8 million people, the Government of Nepal is depending on organisations such as SOS Children’s Villages to reach and assist victims such as some 5,000 displaced residents of the rural village of Khatan, near Patan in the Kathmandu Valley. This small village lost ten of its people, including four children, in the earthquake.

A Nepali boy, badly injured in the earthquake, waits for aid. Photographer: SOS Children's Villages co-worker

An observation team led by Kabindra Shah, director of the SOS Children's Villages Youth Facility in Kathmandu, found the people of Khatan in a state of panic on Sunday when an aftershock of 6.7 on the Richter scale struck. More houses collapsed and a woman was badly injured. The SOS Children’s Village vehicle was used to take her to hospital.

The 4,900 survivors of Khatan are now crammed into five temporary shelters. Among them are 100 very small children, 1,000 older children and two hundred older people. Some of the hardships they face are a lack of water and good food. Colds, coughs and fevers are spreading.

The SOS Children’s Villages’ team met with the community leaders of Khatan to understand their most pressing needs. It was clear that drinking water, tents, food, medical support, mosquito nets and nutritional support for the children were crucial for their survival.

Within four hours after the meeting SOS Children’s Villages was able to arrange a bulk delivery of rice, cereals, powdered milk, soap and mosquito rolls. The relief materials were enough for two meals only for the thousands of people in the shelters. More assistance is drastically needed.

Families staying at the SOS Children's Villages Relief Camp in Kavre, Nepal, are getting nutritious meals, but food and water supplies in the first days since the earthquake have been insufficient for the enormous need. Photographer: SOS Children's Villages co-worker

Heavy rain on Sunday night worsened the situation.

“There is now a growing fear of epidemics, because of the rain and poor sanitation. People have left Kathmandu for their ancestral villages, because they are so worried about the ongoing situation. The victims need extended support in terms of food supplies, logistics and medical assistance,” said Shankar Pradhananga, National Director of SOS Children’s Villages Nepal.

WATCH: SOS Children's Villages USA CEO, Lynn Croneberger described to CNNi Today Asia the harrowing situation faced by Nepal's earthquake survivors.

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